We are appropriately reminded from time to time to be careful what we put online because the Internet is forever, and people in the future can find our past.
That’s also its strong suit.
Six years ago, I made this post on NewsCut about the picture I’d kept in my wallet for years, without knowing the name of the first U.S. casualty in the first Gulf War. Within a few hours, I found the name and the background of Jack Edwards, who died 24 years ago last month.
(© John Francis Ficara)
Since the first post, I usually hear from someone connected with Capt. Edwards, often a family member — sometimes one of his kids in this picture, all of whom have now grown up.
I did again this weekend, and — again — it was sheer coincidence as a result of the initial post. He said it was OK if I shared it with you.
This evening I told a story of a man I knew to my younger son, and that I remembered him every year on Memorial Day. We were watching the movie “Saving Pvt. Ryan” and the last scene of Ryan at Arlington Cemetery always reminded me of the only Marine friend I’ve known who died in a war. That man was Capt. Edwards.
I was a LCpl. when I first met him at HMA 169. As the only LCpl. plane captain at the time, I had become somewhat famous because of my go get him attitude at inspecting the helicopters. We were in the ready room when he asked me if I knew this Dubon guy. I said I did and asked why and he said, well I hear he’s a good plane captain! We had a good laugh when I told him that I was Dubon. He always had a big smile on his face. He was so easy going and not pretentious or conceited like many of the pilots. I remember, I think, that he said he was a reporter in Michigan and after flying on helicopters, he decided he wanted to be a pilot. Time passed and we ended up going overseas together on a Westpac in early 1984. I considered him a friend even though we really didn’t hang out, obviously because he was an officer and I was enlisted but that didn’t keep us from having a beer together out in town when we ran into each other. I will always remember him for the favor he did for me when we were in Australia. I purchased a few bottles of wine but instead of smuggling it onboard and risking getting in trouble, I approached him if he could hide them for me(officers could bring alcohol onboard) and he didn’t hesitate one bit in saying yes.
A few years later back in my hometown of New Orleans, I picked up the paper and read the headline of the first Marine killed in the Gulf War. I shed a tear that day for my friend and over the years I have thought of him often. I remember thinking after moving to Michigan with my family, that Capt. Edwards was I think, from Michigan.
So tonight I decided to look up his name after telling my son the story, thinking maybe in today’s internet world, just maybe I might find something about him. Lo and behold, I came across your article and I instantly recognized that photo as being the one I saw in my local newspaper so many years ago. Thank you for not giving up on his memory. I hope to one day relay this same story to his family if possible. If you could make this happen, that would be a great thing. Attached are his photo and mine from our Westpac cruise aboard the USS Belleau Wood in 1984.
Thank you again and God Bless.
I don’t know if I still have the email addresses of Capt. Edwards’ family now. If I don’t, it won’t matter. Thanks to the Internet, they’ll find Cesar Dubon.